When it rains, it pours

Does anyone else get that thing where you’ll have no birthdays/events/work/whatever for weeks at a time, and then everything at once?

August and September are a flood of birthdays in my world. There’s a week in August where I have 10 birthdays in 7 days – that’s a lot of birthday cake for one person to eat! Thankfully, I consider myself a cake eating ninja and am completely up to the task!

My most recent birthday belonged to my beloved boss from my Day Job. When you have a job that’s as stressful as mine can be, you always take the opportunity to celebrate/eat your feelings when it presents itself. It’s the right thing to do!

So, I asked her what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday. She professed a weakness for a cupcake from a nearby shop; lemony with a crunchy coconut topping. I’d never tried it, and sadly the shop no longer sells it, so it was up to my imagination to come up with the goods.

As fate would have it, Julia Taylor posted her recipe for lemon syrup cake while I was madly trawling the internets for inspiration. Salvation! Julia’s recipes are always reliable, and always delicious. It’s a great cake for someone without a sweet tooth, when you just don’t feel like chocolate (It happens sometimes. I don’t judge) or perhaps just want to feel like you’re not celebrating your birthday in the office.

Lucy’s Sunshine Cake

Adapted from Julia Taylor and Tracey’s Culinary Adventure

Lemon Syrup Cake
250g softened unsalted butter
325g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
Zest of three lemons
80ml milk
80ml lemon juice
350g self-raising flour

Pre-heat the oven to 180*C. Grease a cake tin, then line with baking paper.

Cream together the butter and sugar with a mixer on medium-high until pale and fluffy; this will take a few minutes. Add the lemon zest and vanilla extract, then the eggs one at a time.

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Turn the speed to low, then alternate the flour and milk/lemon juice until combined. Pour the mixture into the cake tin, then bake for 35 – 40 minutes. A skewer will come out sticky but clean when the cake is ready.

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I squeezed the juice on one of the lemons over the cake while it was still hot for extra lemony goodness. Cool in the tin, then gently run a knife around the edge of the tin to help get it out cleanly.

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Coconut Swiss Meringue Buttercream
300g sugar
6 large egg whites
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup coconut milk

Place a with the sugar and egg whites in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Whisk them together constantly until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is hot to the touch.

Pour the mixture into a stand mixture fitted with a whisk attachment (or keep mixing with an electric, but it will take longer). Beat on medium high until it cools and resembles a fluffy meringue. Dice the butter into small pieces and add to the mixture a couple at a time until incorporated. Continue to beat on high for a few minutes until fluffy and glossy.

Add the vanilla extract, coconut milk and salt to the mixture, and beat again on medium until incorporated and smooth.

Once the cake is completely cool, cover the cake with a thin layer of icing (a crumb coat) and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes to firm up. This stops you from getting cake crumbs in your lovely icing, and helps give you a smooth finish. After that, ice as you wish!

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I decorated the outside of the cake with toasted coconut flakes just to give it a bit of crunch and interest.

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